The Glass Harmonica Blog

April 20, 2010

Can you sell books using social networks?

Filed under: Social networks — richardmilton @ 6:44 pm

My partner, She Who Is Always Right, has told me a million times not to exaggerate. So I’m not exaggerating when I say that I would rather slit my wrists and then eat my own typewriter than give away secrets that will make other writers’ books more competitive than my own literary efforts in the cut-throat world of publishing. 🙂

But I’m having a lot of fun exploring the world of Social Media and now I want to have the fun of sharing my journey, too. I’m like a tourist who’s just come back from an exotic destination with a suitcase full of photographs, and I can’t wait to invite the neighbours round.

So here’s the thing. I’ve published six books over the past few years including a thriller (titled Dead Secret). I’ve also completed a second thriller titled The Glass Harmonica. Now I know perfectly well that every writer thinks their work is the bees knees, but this novel is really, really, really great. Everyone who’s read it thinks it’s fabulous (and I’m including some of London’s top literary agents). My problem is the all too common one that not one bl**dy editor thinks it is worth publishing. And once it’s been shopped around, it’s damaged goods. I’ve nowhere else to go with it.

In the past, writers have had few alternatives: put the typescript in the bottom of the wardrobe and forget it, or self publish, or give it away for free on the internet. Now there is another alternative. HarperCollins has set up a website called Authonomy where writers can publish their novel electronically and have it voted for by readers. Each month, the five highest rated books are looked at by HarperCollins’s editors with a view to possible publication. The publisher says that more than 20 books have so far been picked up from the site by themselves or other publishers/agents.

The site is controversial – one critic describing it as a “do it yourself slush pile”, and another as a way of inducing writers to self publish using print-on-demand. But for my bottom-of-the-wardrobe typescript, it’s perfect. I can’t send it to another agent, since it’s already been shopped around by one of London’s best-known names, and virtually no publishers now accept direct submission. It’s Authonomy or oblivion.

What Authonomy does perhaps provide (we’ll have to wait and see) is a way for a savvy player to use social networking to give the book enough visibility on the site to drive it to the top of the slush pile. That’s the master plan, anyway.

How am I going to do it? That’s the subject of this blog – and my new website, my Facebook page, my Twitter account, Linkedin account etc etc etc. (If that all sounds like gibberish stick with me for the next few weeks while I see if this ‘ere Internet thingy really works, or whether it’s all just cyberhype.)

Step one is to upload my typescript to the Authonomy site, which I’ve done. It’s now live here:-

Take a look and let me know what you think! Better still click on “Back the Book” to vote for it.



  1. Richard, Thanks for backing my book on Authonomy, and for your excellent comments on this site. Like you, I’m frustrated by the conventional publishing industry and went to self-publishing and Authonomy as an alternative. My book is generating a lot of chatter locally, but I need a wider market to really shoot the lights out, and I’m hoping to do that through Authonomy. I’ll be sure to watch this site for more updates. This is a great site with interesting, relevant content for anyone trying to break out as a published author. Cheers! Lloyd.

    Comment by Lloyd Gordon — May 15, 2010 @ 3:49 pm | Reply

  2. Hi Richard,
    Okay now i understand how you raced through the charts while I eat your dust.
    I have just started working with a Mac and am in major learning mode. I thought I would make a website for Going Out in Style and low and behold you are answering questions I never even thought to ask.

    Smart man.
    I really appreciate all you have shared so far.
    A zoomer- a boomer with zip

    Comment by A Zoomer — May 21, 2010 @ 5:44 am | Reply

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